A loved one who is infirmed in some capacity is often paralyzed by the fear of the unknown, and reaches out to family members for support. While human decency would dictate every measure should be taken to respect their wishes, this is not always practical from the vantage point of relatives. Caring for an ailing loved one at home is a tremendous commitment of time, energy, and emotion, and should not be entered into without a willingness to freely share those attributes. Caregivers are special people, and the responsibility of that duty takes precedence above all others, regardless of the personal cost.
The decision to care for a loved one at home should encompass the entire family, if possible. An individual attempting or desiring to become the sole care provider, regardless of good intentions, is in for a rude and distressing awakening. Too often, because of inexperience and the overwhelming emotionality of the situation a caregiver underestimates the demands of 24 hour care. As time wears on, the potential for the caregiver themselves to become physically or emotionally drained increases, and the overall care of the loved one declines, although unintentional.
The factors in making the decision to care for an ailing loved one at home should always be directed toward providing the best possible care. Realistically, if family members look upon the situation as a burden, perhaps a nursing home is the best place for the patient. However, if there is enough support, caring for an ill person at home is manageable with a proper support system in place.
Begin with enlisting the help of health care professionals or social service organizations, they can direct families to resources to improve care levels for the patient. Visiting nurse programs give caregivers medical instruction, patient supervision and guidance, and peace of mind in an often hectic environment. Involve clergy, friends, and anyone else that can give the patient love and emotional support, and can provide the caregiver with a few minutes to catch their breath, so to speak.
After considering all aspects of the situation, the decision of caring for an ailing loved one at home should become apparent. Keep in mind, the most important aspect in all of this is to provide the patient with as much comfort, love and support as is possible. In the final analysis, both the patient and the caregiver will be enriched by the experience.